Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Gandalf Earns his Bear Award

I have the privilege of working in the Cub Scout Program. I have been serving in scouts for about 4 years. I have such a testimony of the Scouting Program. I love the values they teach. I love how they encourage them to work hard, serve others, and learn important skills. The Church I go to has adopted this program for their young men, and for that I am so thankful.

Tonight Gandalf earned his Bear Achievement. He had to work hard and complete important tasks that are helping to shape him into a fine young man. I am thankful for great leaders, both in California and Arizona who have helped and mentored him. Right now I serve with the Wolf Pack, the 8 year old boys. Gandalf has men leaders and I think that is pretty great. Sometimes as a leader I am so busy planning activities and such for my den that I need to be a more active cub parent.

Gandlaf at his first pack meeting as a Wolf Scout.

I am thankful for Scouting Program. I believe it is designed by heavenly inspiration. We train up cub scouts. They become awesome Boy Scouts, who later become leaders and mentor future boys. Below are some pictures when Gandalf earned his Wolf Rank. He was so proud. And it was great to have both his Grandmas there to support him.

Pretty soon this sweet boy is going to become a Boy Scout. And I won't be as involved in scouting then. He will work with great men who will encourage him and help strengthen his testimony of our Heavenly Father. I know having a fun great experience in cub scouts will help him to love scouting and hopefully stick with it through High School. He wants to earn his Eagle Scout, like his dad. I know the scouting program will help him become a great man.
I would encourage you to find a troop for your son and to get involved. It is a wonderful program! You will love it. Some moms aren't crazy about it, but when I go to training meetings or see the boys grow and learn, my hear swells. I know this is a good thing. And we should seek after good things. Especially for our sons. I am thankful for my testimony of scouting. And when Gandalf moves on to Boy Scouts, Draco will be ready to start. And the same pattern follows with Yoda. 

So it's probably good that I love scouts so much...

 Here is Gandalf pinning on my mothers pin (Did you know moms get pins when their sons earn different ranks? Told you this program is teaching our sons right). He was having a hard time. His fine motor skills aren't the best. Plus baby girl was trying to get it. Then he dropped it down my shirt and tried to get it. I let him know I would take care of it. I went off to the side and shook out my shirt.
Being crazy. He was so happy and proud of himself

I am so proud of my growing boy! Glad that he has a group of boys to grow up with. Glad that he is learning to become an honest young man. And glad that he is having fun. Scouting is for all boys. And I love how they accept and encourage them to "do their best" whatever that it. I love the boys that I work with. And I love when past boys let me know what great things they are doing in scouting now.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cultivating Kindness At Christmas

Click here to see full talk

A couple of years ago a friend of mine pinned this post. I read it and immediately fell in love with the idea. I love Christmas and I love traditions and activities!!!

But I am striving for balance. Less gifts for my kids. More giving to others. And making sure my family doesn't forget what Christmas is all about. I loved the idea of Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, or being RACKed. And as we persisted as a family in giving service, even when it wasn't easy, we have felt joy. True joy. Christmas joy. We felt close to our Savior because we were doing what He would be doing. Serving others.

I find it was best for me to try to think of creative ways myself and my children could serve others. And they couldn't be too pricey as we don't have unlimited funds.  I tried to round up ideas so we could share the goodness. We can serve in lots of ways. Sometimes I have just let someone else have my parking spot. I instantly feel the spirit and know I made a good choice putting someone else first. And my perspective was changed. Because sometimes dealing with a crowded parking lot can be frustrating, this way of thinking helps me to have more patience. And to be happier.

Some Favorite's we have done:

Opening the door for others

Paying for the person behind us
Taping quarters to machines
Donating Toys to Human Options, a women's shelter
Giving Hot Coco when it was cold
Dropping off notes to Assisted Living Place to the Elderly who might be lonely
Giving Neighbors Treats
Christmas Caroling
Taking Police Men treats (but they usually are suspicious)
Taking jam to the firehouse (they are use to being loved)
Helping at school
Watching kids for a friend so they can go shopping

That being said I like the idea of unplanned opportunities of kindness. Our family is trying to pray in the morning for opportunities to serve and help others. I know as we pray for these our eyes will be open and we will be able to help others.

Below are Ideas I have found this year and wanted to share...

Free Printable Random Acts of Christmas Kindness Calendar for Kids!

Coffee Cups and Crayons shares this great printable. I love how so many people are trying to be kinder and encourage others to join them. When I see service, great or small, I am always uplifted. Check out her post about it. She has some fun ways to display kindness and involve her children. 

service countdown ig image

Crafting Chicks 

Jamie from The Crafting Chicks has an Instagram challenge to encourage us to serve each day.
You can follow along and use their hashtag to join in the fun. I love the simplicity of some of these fun ideas. 

Little Lucy Lu 

This has another great list of great things to do this Holiday.

ServeTogether is an account I follow in Instagram. I love it!!! This amazing mom who lost her beautiful baby Ruby Jane years ago has started this account and is always sharing ways we can help other people. It is so humbling to read through her feed.  Recently she posted about a girl named Addie who loves getting Christmas Cards. This might be her last Christmas. We can help by sending her mail to:

Addie Fausett
Box 162
Fountain Green, UT 84632

I think we might have each child make her a different card so she can get six from our family. it is a small way to share joy with a sweet family. I would encourage you to follow Serve Together for more ways we can help others.

Just Serve

Just Serve is an awesome idea. It was started by those of my faith but is for everyone. Sometimes we want to serve and help our community, but we don't always know where we are needed. Just Serve lets you register and find service opportunities in your area. It's a great way for members of all faiths to come together to serve. They have projects that are one time events or they could have on going projects like soup kitchens that can always use a hand. You can submit a project idea as well. I am really excited to use this for my cub scouts and for my family. 

 I just wanted to share a fun way to feel true Christmas joy this season. Please share any ways your family likes to give and serve others. I know that as we sincerely strive to help each other and serve we will fell happiness. A happiness that can't be bought at a store.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December Menu Plan

1. Baked Sweet & Sour Chicken
2. Loaded Potato Soup
3. Baked Chicken Parmesan 
4. Pick up something on the way home from rehearsal
5. Concert Night! Sack lunch
6. Concert Night! Sack lunch
7. Baked Potatoes
8. Cafe Rio Soup
9. Black Bean Tostada
10. Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta
11. Slow Cooker Southwest Chicken Soup
12. Orange Chicken Stir Fry 
13. Leftovers
14. Kalua Pork with Mashed Potatoes
15. Lasagna
16. Omelettes
17. Turkey Dinner with Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, and Rolls
18. Turkey Soup
19. Turkey Pot Pie
20. Tacos
21. Pizza
22. Kristin's Enchiladas
23. Chicken Salad Sandwiches from Sister Kinney
24. Soup and Bread
25. Christmas Dinner
26. eating out
27. eating out
28. eating out
29. eating out
30. Pasta with Meatballs
31. Shrimp

December is a fun time for our Family Home evenings (every Monday night we gather as a family to sing, learn, and share treats!). We have a tradition of doing fun family activities.

1st  We decorate our tree the first Monday. The kids love to put on ornaments and drink hot coco.

8th Temple Lights! We always loved visiting the LA temple and visitor's center and we are going to  miss it. But we are thrilled that the Mesa Temple does lights too. If you are near either of those temples check out the beautiful lights. It's a great Family Night to bundle up and feel close to our Savior.

15th Decorate Gingerbread Houses. This is great activity! Sometimes we cheat make it easier and use Graham Crackers. (Note Sam's Club crackers don't break nicely) Then each child could make his own. Grady impressed all the boys by making a creeper from mine craft for his house. We love inviting friends over for this one.

22nd Christmas Caroling. "The best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear!" We have been caroling since our oldest was a baby. Sometimes our group is big, sometimes small. In the last couple of years we have enjoyed walking instead of driving. And it's okay to not be amazing singers (I know I am not) because we can still spread Cheer. If you still aren't sure, watch the movie Elf.

29th Game night with family. It will be my birthday and I am thinking a family game night might need to happen.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Remembering my Grandma

Today is my Grandma's birthday. My boys are excited to make donuts tonight for family night to celebrate and remember her. She was the last Grandparent my husband and I had. I am so thankful she was around to meet my four children. I miss her and I am sad she isn't here for important earthly events but I know that she is in a wonderful place. And that she is watching over us.

Just the other day I told Draco that angels must have been keeping baby girl safe and he told me it was Grandma Norma. I love how they think of her and care about her. She was such a good great grandma to them. She had 20 grandchildren and at least 20 great grandchildren. And she was so good about giving them a card for their birthday. She was so good at remembering them. And when she was around she was playing with them, sometimes even on the floor. And she loved to hold my babies. She loved that she would always have babies around. It was hard to get a picture of her looking at the camera because she always wanted to look at her great grandbabies instead.

I am thankful for her love and example. She had a hard life but was so positive. She loved to  share stories and life lessons. And I loved sharing our love for family history together. I loved having her over for dinner. She would visit and talk and never upset if it was running late due to crazy family life. She just loved being around family.

I admire her social nature and her ability to make friends. She moved down to Orange County a couple years ago and I was concerned she was going to miss her great group of friends. But in no time she was playing Bingo at her apartments and doing her visiting teaching and driving others around. She worked in the Newport Beach temple even though it was more of a challenge than her temple service in the Los Angeles Temple. Her old ward (or group of church friends) missed her and threw her such a great party when she left. I think someone even wrote her a song. I know she was a great example to many.

She loved my children dearly. And she loved The Lord dearly. I am thankful for her testimony and great example of service. Just last General Conference I was thinking about her when Elder Callister mentioned  his mother making dinner for the elderly. And he remembered thinking, "You are the elderly." That is what my Grandma did. She visited and made meals for others all the time. Even though some of them were younger than her. That's how I want to be. Busy doing family history work, loving my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. I want to exercise and take care of myself. I want to continue to serve others especially in the temple.

Pictures of my Grandma. Bottom left by Shari Hanson

I love the top right picture. I was pregnant  and had just moved two large bookcases in my boys room thanks to my BBF Julie. I was trying to combine the boys room to get ready for baby girl. And my grandma stopped by to say Hello. She was so sweet to tell me the room would look great. And seeing how tired and focused I was on my task she just played with my sons, who probably needed some attention since I was hard at work. Yoda was trying to get her to play Buzz and Woody and I am pretty sure she didn't know who either of them were. But she was there. And happy to give them her time. It was what they needed. And what I needed.

I am so thankful for my Grandma and for eternal families. Can't wait to find out my kids favorite memories of their Great Grandma are.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Our Family History Traditions: Remembering Jack

Years ago I came across a recipe from my Grandmother that I never made. I decided to make it on her birthday to remember her. And thus one of my favorite traditions was born.

On each of mine and my husbands Grandparents birthdays we celebrate and remember them by making their favorite dessert. It is a great way for our children to feel connected to their Great Grandparents, some of them they have never met. My second son Draco kept talking about my Grandma Happy and how much he loved her. I was kinda surprised because he didn't know her that well and wouldn't kiss her goodbye. (He is my grumpiest child) Then I figured it out!

He loved the dessert we made for her birthday!

Yesterday we talked about my husbands Grandma Jack. We have his picture up in our house. My second son and husband carry his middle name. My kids know him even though only my eldest son has met him when he was a baby. But as we share stories about him over Cherry Cobbler, and I quiz my sons about his life, we feel a connection. And they can develop a love for him and look forward to when they can see him again.

Isn't he handsome?
I love my hubby's grandpa! He was a kind gentle man. He adored his wife and daughters. He was active in his church and loved to play baseball. He loved The Lord and his family. I cherish the time I was able to spend with him. One of my favorite memories was when we were sitting in his living room and I was asking him all kinds of questions he stopped me and said, "You really care, don't you." I assured him that of course I cared, he was family. I knew it touched his heart that I saw value in his life and wanted to know about him. Grandparents are important and aren't here on earth long enough. 

Pictured above is that special day when we were able to go to the temple as a family and seal Grandpa and Grandma to each other forever. I believe that marriage can be eternal. That is why temples are so important. Because they enable family relationships perpetuate beyond the grave. I love Jack dearly and look forward to seeing him again someday. I know that if I invest time and teach my sons and daughter about him they will will know him and will gain strength from his good life. I am sure he is looking out for them. And his heart of full as he sees his posterity remember him.

Cherry Cobbler
From "Grandma Suzie"

Made to celebrate Grandpa Jack 

2 Cans of Cherry Pie Filling (I usually put an extra can or two because my family really likes the thicker filling)
2/3 Cup of Water
1 Yellow Cake Mix (any kind, or even white)
1/2 lb. of Melted Butter (not margarine)
(I added a little brown sugar and oats too)
1 Small package of Chopped Pecans (optional; we use more...like 1 1/2 cups.....or even walnuts)
I add 1/4 c of brown sugar and oats

            Pour Cherry Pie Filling into a buttered or "Pammed" pan (9 x 13).   Pour the water over the pie filling.  Sift the cake mix over the top of filling and water.  Pour the melted butter over all.  Cover with the chopped nuts.  Bake for approx. 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. 

We love using this special recipe from my dear friend Suzie! She is a great example and lovely in all things. She is so great at gathering with her family and is always cooking for them. I knew I would love her recipe.

 I leave out the nuts. If you half this recipe and add a 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup oats and serve 8 slices you would have about 45 carbs per serving.

Baby girl loves her great grandpa and his favorite dessert 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Hubby's Mashed Potatoes

My favorite food at Thanksgiving is Mashed Potatoes. And my Hubby makes my favorite kind. Not only are they creamy and buttery, but when he makes them himself it's one less thing for me to make. They are pretty rich, but hey, it's Thanksgiving. I did make them more often when I was trying to get baby girl to gain some weight. Surprisingly, she doesn't like them. It must be a texture thing. All my boys love them. They are the only mashed potatoes Draco will eat. And I love that you don't peel them. Yay for less work!

Read ahead to get our family recipe that we have been making for years.

Hubby’s Mashed Potatoes
10 lbs of Yukon Gold potatoes (I will sometimes use red potatoes if they are on sale)
½ cup Heavy Cream (Buy it at Sam’s or Costco, so much cheaper)
1 ¼  Tbsp Kosher Salt
¾ Black Pepper
1 ¾ lb European Butter (richer and creamier)

Wash Potatoes. In a large pot boil unpeeled potatoes after cutting them into big chunks to speed up the cooking time. When fork tender, drain thoroughly. Add potatoes to a large bowl along with the rest of the ingredients. Cube up your butter first to help distribute the butter. Using a hand masher combine everything. Your potatoes should be creamy but still have some lumps. Grab a new spoon and taste. Feel free to add more salt or cream.

Feel free to check out his blog and see movie reviews and podcast on the 3rd hour block lessons.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Mom's Zesty Green Beans

One of my favorite dishes at Thanksgiving is my Mom's Zesty Green Beans. She started making them when I was in High School and I just love them!!! I think there was mention of not having them one year and I was not happy.  I am not a big fan of "cream of "anything or casseroles. My family never did the Green Bean Casserole that can be popular this time of year. But  I love having vegetables to off set all the potatoes and pie I want to eat. This dish has crispy green beans with lemon and bacon (always a win!).

 My Mom’s Zesty Green Beans

2 lbs green beans
½ C pine nuts
6 slices of bacon, cut into little chunks
1 tsp lemon juice
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 T lemon zest

Cook green beans over medium high about 5 minutes till toasted. (sometimes I will steam them. Be careful not to over steam them. You want them bright green.) Toast the pine nuts in a pan. Remove and set aside. Start cooking your bacon in a pan until they are crisp. Remove bacon and place on a plate with paper towels to absorb extra grease. Add green beans to your bacon grease and pan fry till heated. Remove beans and toss with zest, juice, and salt and pepper. Add toasted pine nuts and bacon and toss.  Enjoy!

 Hope you enjoy our family favorite! Looking forward to sharing more Thanksgiving recipes soon.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thankful Thursday

I wanted to take a moment each Thursday this month to focus on something I am thankful for. I have been thinking a lot about my best friend's Grandma this last month. Dear Sweet Sister Hinkson, or Grandma, has been in my life for 20 years now. She came to my baptism when I was 11 years old. I had never met her, but she came to support me.

She is always friendly and you can tell she loved to serve others. My BBF"s mom worked so Grandma was usually driving her grand-daughters around to their activities. She could sew, cook, bake. When I was about 12 she taught me and my BFF  Jayne how to sew. I was really horrible. I was always un-picking my stitches and doing it again, while Jayne was able to go on to the next stage. (The seam ripper is still one of my most used tools. I have two just in case.)

Grandma Hinkson showing my oldest her flowes
I would make small things or skirts. Then I was 16 and she made me my first formal dress for me. It was empire waist with pink chiffon and peter pan sleeves. Sometimes I can't believe I asked her to make it for me. I think I may have asked her to help me make it, but I am pretty sure she did most of it. She taught me how to read patterns when sewing.

We have kept in touch through the years and I love seeing her. Especially at fabric stores. I hope she is happy I am still sewing. She taught me something that has blessed my life so much. I went on to sew my own formal dresses. I make my Halloween costumes, baby blessing dresses, home decor, and so much more. This skill has saved me money and has helped me work on my talents. She didn't have to invest that much time in me. I can't tell you how many blonde grandchildren she has. She had a full and busy life. Lots of children and grandchildren. Always callings and responsibilities. Her husband always had lots of callings and responsibilities. But she took time out of her busy life to help me. I am so thankful for that.

Not only did she teach me how to sew, but she is an amazing example of a woman of faith. She shared goodness and her testimony. She was positive and funny. She made lots of yummy treats. And she taught me you only had to wash your hands if the people you were cooking for were there when you were making it. (I am sure she always washed her hands, but that still makes me laugh)

I want to be like her. I want to help and teach others. We should take time out to help our youth and young friends, whatever our talents are. Let us share our talents and passions with those around us. Let us help and uplift each other. Because we never may know our influence.

An extra thankful thought! This morning we were able to get squeezed to see a GI specialist with Phoenix Children's Hospital. Otherwise our appointment would have been in February. I have been keeping a food diary (why I wasn't do this earlier, I have no idea?) so I brought that along with the rest of Baby Girl's medical folder.

She weighs a whopping 18 lbs and 12.6 oz!!!!

And this office told me about a WHO Growth Child chart they use for breastfed babies around the world and she is in the 18% for her weight!!! I wanted to cry that she was even on the chart! And 15% for her height. They told me it was a better way to gauge breastfed kids progress and their percentile.

We have been pushing good fats, especially the last two weeks. French toast every morning. And I don't add milk, just straight heavy whipping cream. And butter. Always butter. And she has been loving hummus as well.

We got to meet with a dietitian. She saw her previous numbers and totally understood our concerns, but thinks she is doing great. We will be meeting with them in 3 months to make sure. And they could call us back to come in sooner if her blood work shows something, but I am thrilled! And so thankful. The dietitian told me we are doing the right things. Here are somethings to help, but keep up the great work. And I really appreciate it because it is stressful. I want her to thrive and do well. Meal time is already complicated enough with my crazy diabetic kid. :)

There is so much to be thankful for!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Remember Remember The 5th of November

Last year my oldest son Gandalf had a fun school report where he had to learn about one of our ancestors. And it had to be someone who was an immigrant. As someone who loves all things Family History, I was so excited for this report. I pulled up all our immigrant relatives and he picked one. George Taylor from England.

He had to learn about him and his travels to America. Then he had to decorate a clothes pin in traditional clothing. One part of his report he had to learn about the country, including holidays.

And that is when we stumbled upon Guy Fawkes Day.

I immediately called one of my besties who is from England herself, to find out more about this holiday. I asked her, "Why haven't we been celebrating this awesome holiday?" She knows how much I love crazy holidays. Currently we have celebrated Shrove Tuesday with her. I love getting in touch with my ancestral roots, and it's fun to see Alex in her element. She is a natural when it comes to flipping pancakes.

According to Wikipedia:

" Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot's failure."

It is celebrated with fireworks and a great bonfire where you burn a fake body of Guy Fawkes. Children (because it's always best to involve them in this kind of celebration) go around and say "A penny for a guy/" and collect funds for the firewood. When my son learned about this his response was "Awesome!" 

I told Alex we have to celebrate this next year and then I had to ruin it all by moving out of state. I was doing my research and I found out there is even Bonfire Toffee because what bonfire burning would be complete with out a special treat. 

We are looking forward to celebrate this new tradition for our family. I will be making Guy Fawkes masks and the toffee below. I don't know if we will have a chance to get fireworks this time. I'll let you know how it goes. Super excited to celebrate our English heritage!!!

Remember Remember the 5th of November...

Bonfire toffee
From the BBC Food Recipes
A real British classic, this jaw-breaking treacle toffee dates back hundreds of years and is really easy to make. You will need a candy thermometer, preferably a digital one.
75g/3oz golden syrup
75g/3oz black treacle
150g/6oz light soft brown sugar
75g/3oz butter
¼ tsp cream of tartar
Preparation method
Line a 15 x 20cm/6 x 8in baking tray with non-stick baking parchment.
Measure all the ingredients into a deep, heavy-based saucepan. Place over a medium heat and stir occasionally until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved.
When the mixture is smooth and well-combined, increase the heat and bring the mixture to a fast boil. When the mixture reaches 140C/285F, pour carefully into the lined tray.
If you want even pieces, wait until the toffee is cool enough to handle, but elastic enough so that a finger pressed in the top leaves a slight indent (about 15-20 minutes depending on the room temperature). Partially cut the toffee into even pieces with an oiled knife. When it has cooled completely, break along these lines. Alternatively let the toffee cool completely, then break into shards with a toffee hammer or rolling pin.

Store in an airtight container, with individual layers of toffee separated by baking parchment. If left exposed to humidity, the toffee will soften and stick together.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November Menu Plan

Our menu plan for November

1 Leftovers
2 Steak Tacos
3 Dinner at a friends house
4 BBQ Pulled Pork
5 Cafe Rio Chicken
6 Chicken Pesto
7 Philly Sandwiches
8 Pesto Sandwiches
9 Baked Flautas ( I don't use beer in my though)
10 Hamburgers
11 Oven Fried Chicken
12 Taco Tuesday with Crock Pot Re-fried Beans
13 Baked Potato Soup
14 Poor Boy's Steak
15 Taco Pizza
16 Thanksgiving Dinner
17 Leftovers
18 Fajitas
19 Baked Rosemary Chicken
20 BBQ Chopped Salad
21 Turkey Soup
22 Lemon Chicken
23 Cafe Rio Soup
24 Leftovers
25 Baked Chicken Parmesan
26 Au Jus Sandwiches
27 Leftovers
28 Thanksgiving
29 Eating Out
30 Salad and Bread

When planning the menu for the month I like to plan our family nights as well. Every Monday night we gather to learn, sing, feel the spirit, and eat some treats together. It's a wonderful tradition that helps our family have more love and peace. It also strengthens family relationships. I invite you to try to have Monday night your family night. Even if you just play a game together or just share dessert.

3rd. Helping out around the House.
Our family always seems to need this one. ;)

10th Brigham Young We are working on studying about our Prophets in these latter days.

17th The 3rd week we review a General Conference Talk. I really enjoyed this one, Are We Not All Beggars? I think it's especially a good listen with Thanksgiving this month.
I would encourage you, no matter what faith you are, to listen to this powerful message. I know it is filled with true and good things. We all can extend kindness and compassion.

24th Preach My Gospel. As we have 3 sons who will someday serve missions we are trying to teach correct principals and truths that will better prepare them to serve others.

Last night I had the opportunity to hear a local church leader give advice on how I can be better as a parent. One of the things I felt I needed to do was invite my children to act. I will try this month to give assignments and encourage my sons to organize a game, share an experience, or teach a scripture. I know this will help them more fully live their faith.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Past Family Halloween Costumes

As I have said before, I love Halloween! And I love that my husband has kept his promise that we would do matching costumes every year. I made a little collage of our past Halloweens. Some of these family themes we will repeat I am sure.

2002- Our very first Halloween we didn't dress up. It was the first time I have ever NOT dressed up in my life. I was in beauty school and the hubs was working and going to school. Little money and hardly any time equals sadness for our 1st Halloween.

2003 Star Wars: The Mr. was Hans and I was Princess Leia.

2004 Scooby Doo: He let me bleach his hair. He made a handsome Fred. I was Daphine. I made our costumes by sewing a little and getting the rest of items of clothing. Adults had no idea who we were. No one at my Salon recognized me. Then someone from Cinderella Cakes stopped by. She ran back to her store and brought back a figurine of me. Then everyone saw it.

2005 Popeye: We had Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Sweetpea. One bummer was Popeye had to work and miss Trunk or Treat, and not a lot of people knew we dressed up. (lesson learned)

2006 Gilligan's Island: We had the Skipper, MaryAnn, and Gilligan. It was perfect because my hubby calls our son "Little Buddy". Everyone told me I was the most modest MaryAnn ever. (Bonus Points!)

2007 Peter Pan: I was Wendy. I had a costume from when my little sister and I were Wendy and Tinkerbell. The Hubby was Captain Hook. I made an amazing coat only to have him get sick that year and he wasn't able to wear it. Little Gandalf was Peter Pan. We bought his costume and my kids still wear it. We even had our favorite neighbor (and my future daughter in law) match us by being Tinkerbell.

2008 The Wizard of Oz: We had Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and our Cowardly Lion. His costume was my favorite! I made all of them except for the Scarecrow I borrowed from my friend Wayne. Happy Hallo-Wayne! He has great costumes!

2009 Harry Potter. Our neighbor hood friend with red hair was going to be Ron. I told my English girlfriend her kids would be a perfect Harry and Hermione. My Hubby insisted we join as well. We bleached Gandalf's hair. He didn't want to be a bad guy so I told him Draco makes better choices later. I was Professor Trelawny. The hubby was Sirius Black. (not pictured) Also I had 3 of my Young Women dress up as Luna, Fleur, and Moaning Myrtle.

2010 Peanuts: Probably the easiest costumes to make. Which was great because we had a new baby that month. He was Snoopy and the older two were Charlie Brown and Linus. I was going to be Lucy and my hubby that piano guy, but for the 2nd time in my life I didn't dress up.

2011 Batman: Not just any Batman, the Adam West version. My favorite! Draco looked so adorable in those speedo's I made. I loved seeing him strut around. I was BatGirl and the hubby Commissioner Gordon. Baby Yoda was the cutest Penguin. And my older boys were the best dynamic duo. The pictures are really amazing because Shari Hanson took them. I'm glad she was able to capture one of my favorite themes. PS I loved grocery shopping that day in my awesome heel boots and costume.

2012 Pokémon: I wasn't thrilled about this one but my boys LOVED it. We had Ash, Misty, Brock, and Pokémon Pikachu and Bulbasour. It was a fun year! I made all of them except for Ash, which we borrowed. (Don't you love Brock's face?)

2013 Peter Pan: I know we did this one already, but we switched the costumes up. My older Brother suggested he be Captian Hook because of his amazing mustache. The boys loved having their uncle come and trick or treat with us. The Hubby was Smee instead. It was fun having more characters this time.

2014 Frozen

It's so much fun looking through old Halloween pictures and remembering the fun. I have learned to get pictures earlier in the month so we can enjoy our Halloween and still get the shots I want.

Here are some great blogs that have some great tips on photographing your kids. I need to work on my skills...

Click it Up a Notch
Simple As That

Happy Halloween!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Family Halloween Costumes!!!

I feel so much better now that all our costumes are complete!!! I love how they turned out. I defiantly learned a lot and would have done some things differently, but that's okay. My heart just bursts on Halloween. One of my favorite things is going on Facebook after a Trunk or Treat or on Halloween night and seeing all the great costumes. Homemade or store bought, they are all fun!  I love dressing up! And as an adult I just don't get the opportunity like I use to. I hope you enjoy our Family Theme this year. I know there are a ton of Anna and Elsa costumes out there, but it is still so much fun.

I love this picture of me and my baby girl! She is so small and sweet. And someday she isn't going to want to match me anymore. So I am soaking it up. I love that my boys picked this theme and baby girl and I got to be strong girl characters. The lessons on sisters, friendship, and love are wonderful.
(Plus side of being a hairdresser is coloring my hair red and adding blond extensions!)

More shots of our family. Love our frozen boys. And Draco loved being baby girl's protector. He told someone at the park he wasn't bad, he just loves baby girl the most.

Isn't my Hans handsome??? He's a looker and super funny. (Notice his hair color changed too!) He was such a gem to go along with our craziness. He promised me before we were married that he would always match me for Halloween. And he is making good at that promise. I am so happy how his costume turned out. I will share a tutorial on his and mine next week. I am happy with my costume too. And I have leftover material so baby girl maybe getting a dress up cape for Christmas.

Our family being silly. And of course my kids have been talking for weeks about me punching Hans. Anything to make them happy. 

I love my family!!! I love Halloween! 

If you missed any of these tutorials for Halloween or dress up you can check them out below....

Feel free to share a link to your amazing  costumes in the comments. Yay for dressing up!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Kristoff Costume Tutorial

My oldest boy Gandalf wanted to be Kristoff, of course. He likes him more than Olaf. His favorite line is when he is talking to Anna and asks, "What if you don't like the way he picks his nose? And eats it.." His tunic was pretty easy and I was able to make it in one morning.


Grey material (fleece or sweatshirt material works great, And it's on sale this week at JoAnne's)
Fur material
Burgondy trim or ribbon
Sewing Machine

Also for the costume
Snow boots
Thermal or long sleeve tee

I started by folding my material and laying a shirt down for a pattern. I wanted it to be bulkier than the shirt I used. You could cut out two pieces, but I choose to skip the step to sew the top by making my fold there. Next I cut a V where the neck would go. (See picture) I turned the material inside out with right sides together. I pinned where I would stop sewing for the sleeves. I love using my quilting ruler for this. Sew up the sides.
With the shirt still inside out I cut two small rectangles on a fold for my sleeves. Sew the seam for each sleeve. Then pulling the sleeve out so it's the "right" way, tucked it into your shirt. (See picture) Sew, matching your seam. It doesn't have to be perfect because he probably got it from the trolls.
Then I cut a long rectangle 4" long strip for my collar. (See picture) Next I arranged it on my shirt. Starting at the arrow I stitched across the two pieces with my "collar" piece in the front. This helped it stay upright. Make sure to stop where the collar ends on the back section. Then you can stitch your two ends of your collar to the front part of the shirt. I kept the collar on top of the shirt.
Now we can apply our trim. I was really excited about this trim I found at JoAnne's. I think it matches pretty well. Starting at the left part of the collar I laid my trim out and stitched down the V of the neck. Leave a tail. (See picture) Then I went back to the starting point and zig zagged across the trim so it wouldn't fray. Then I put another piece on that and zig zagged that on top. Then I followed with a basic stitch to the other side of the V, going around the neck. Again I left a tail, this one slightly longer. Bending the trim and tucking in a corner to make the design go straight down, pin it to stay in place. Do this for both sides of loose trim. With my trim I stitched it down following the design and stitching next to the border. Once I did one of the loose ends I clip the other loose end to match exactly. When finished with both lines make sure to zig zag the bottom of the trim. I added another line of trim across the shoulders. Then I did my basic stitch on the other side of the border for the whole garment.
Now it's time to work with the fur. It wasn't too bad. After each cut I went through and removed extra hair then so it wouldn't get all over as I was sewing. It still did, kinda. But it was manageable. I cut long rectangles, the whole width of my material. Then with my shirt facing right side up I laid the fur facing down on top of the shirt. I stitch along the bottom. I then folded it down when I was done. Do the same thing with the sleeves.

For his hat I used a beanie as a pattern. Cut two pieces and sew right sides together. My 4 year old told me I needed a ball on top. I grabbed a rectangle scrap and with my rotary cutter and ruler I sliced tiny strips. (See below) Then using thread wrap it around the middles and double knot it. Fluff up the pieces and sew it on top.

Gandalf was a great sport. Especially since we live in Arizona and he's gotta be hot in that costume. In between homework, dinner, and pack meeting I was able to get some pictures. He is growing up so fast. I can't believe he is going to be double digits in 6 months. So glad he still wants dress up as a family. And he totally doesn't mind that I am going to be Anna. (Just to clarify I am playing the Anna who is still in love with Hans) Love this boy so much!

Stay tuned for the rest of our family...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Marshmallow From Frozen Costume Tutorial

Last January when we were discussing our Family Theme for Halloween, (I like to plan at least 9 months in advance because I am crazy like that) I suggested Lord of the Rings, Avengers, or Star Wars. With three sons I wanted to pick a theme they would like. I still can't believe they were willing to dress with a family theme when our oldest is 9! I guess they have never thought they could choose their own thing. I hope we can keep this tradition alive because I love it.

Well the boys chose Frozen, which surprised me. But the only problem was who my 2nd son would be. I told them if we couldn't work it out we would have to choose a new theme. He really wanted to be Olaf, but my youngest boy really loved Olaf too! And the previous year when my youngest wanted to be Peter Pan he had to be Michael, because I wasn't going to make my 5 year old wear pink to school. I suggest Sven but he told me my drawing was "lame". Finally my little "Draco" chose Marshmallow. He loved the idea of being his sister's protector. And he wanted to be the Marshmallow version with the spikes. Way cooler. I wanted to make it as cool as possible.

Draco loves sewing. He loves watching me sew. And he thinks I can sew anything. I love sewing for him because he gets so excited, even if it's not for him. When I was sewing my costume he told me it looked so beautiful in just the sweetest voice.

So let's get started!


White material ( I choose fleece leftover from our Olaf Costume)
Long sleeve white shirt in a bit of a bigger size
Blue felt
Blue material for the spikes
sewing machine

I started with fleece folded so I could cut two pieces for his hat. (See picture) You trace your child's head and add extra for seam allowance. My son recognized this pattern from when I made our pikcachu costume two years ago. I use it all the time. Make sure to leave tabs so you can wrap it around your child's neck. Sew the two pieces together, right sides together. Turn it out and try it on. My boys always love that part.

Cut teeth with your fleece. (See picture) Sew the teeth to your hat. Cut out eyes from your blue felt. Glue them on with Fabric Tac. I like doing it while they are wearing the hat. Sew Velcro on the straps so you can wrap it around their face.

I take a pair of PJ bottoms and use it as a pattern. You want to cut out two legs on folded material so you can cut two. (See picture) I tapered the legs because Marshmallow has bigger legs. Also leave some extra space on top to make your elastic casing. With right sides together you want to sew the legs together at the sides, but not the crotch part. Then when you have done this to both legs, turn one of the legs right side out. Then slide it into the wrong side of the leg. (See picture) Sew along the crotch. You can even reinforce that seam and go over the middle again. Turn them out the right way.

To make the casing you first need to get some elastic and put it around your child's waist. Pull it a bit tight. Fold over your fabric a good inch and sew around to create a gap. Leave a small hole by not completing your stitch back where you started but leaving some space. Take a safety pin and attach it to your elastic. Push it through your gap in your pants. Pull the elastic out, but not all the way. Undo the safety pin and sew the elastic together. Then finish off the seam so your line connects. I didn't hem my pants to keep things simple. (yay for fleece!)

I love my Fiskars mat! I love cutting material on my bed if my baby is around. And I love the mats great size. I used my rotary blade and mat to cut my spikes. I wouldn't recommend this material because it frayss so easily, but I had it from my baby girls Elsa costume. And I love being thrifty. My mat had a great triangle that I used to help me keep the spikes the same size and angle. I purposely made the ends of the triangle the selvage edge so it wouldn't fray. I cut two of each spike and sew them together. Then I zig zagged the edges so they wouldn't fray on me. Next I cut some foam I had leftover from Little brothers Penguin costume. I was going to use wire too, but I really didn't need it. My son wanted two spikes on each shoulder. I was happy with the small amount requested as I still have so much to sew. Feel free to make more.

Once my spikes were done, (See picture) I folded over the small side like a present and with the sewing machine sew a long side to his shirt. I then hand sew the rest of it on. Repeat with all your spikes, taking care to match them up. Then I cut four rectangle foam pieces and 1 long rectangle. I put two foam pieces where his shoulders are to create bulk. And then added the long piece across his chest. He loved feeling buff.

"Oh hi, we were just talking about you. All good things, all good things!"

He is such a joy to sew for. He loves to watch me, but and he insisted I was doing it wrong. He warned me I would have to do it over again. When I finished his hat it blew his mind that it turned out. Can't wait for him to want to learn how to sew.  The boys had so much fun taking pictures together!

You can check out

Thanks so much for reading...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Olaf Costume Tutorial

Isn't he a ray of sunshine?

My littlest guy was so excited to be Olaf for Halloween. (Although he use to call him Frozen, because surely the movie was all about him!) His costume was pretty easy. I was able to sew it in less than two days.


White fleece
Brown, orange, and black felt
Fabric Tac
Brown long sleeve tee (I found a thermal at Walmart)
Batting or foam
Craft wire (I used Stampin Up)
Sewing Machine

First I started with his hood. Trace your child's head with some seam allowance. You are going to want to leave some long tabs that can then be tucked around his neck. Cut out two pieces. (See pictures)  Sew those two pieces together. Turn them out and try it on your child. I love using fleece because I don't have to finish the edge. You are welcomed to, but to keep things simple I choose not to.

Next grab some orange felt and cut out a nose on a fold. I just free handed the shape. (See pictures)  Then I sewed straight lines horizontally to add some character. I then stitched the nose together with right sides facing each other. My lines didn't match up perfectly, but I was totally ok with that. Then fill the nose with batting or foam. I would also suggest using some craft wire. Fold your wire in half so your half way point will be at the tip of the nose and the ends will hang out. Trim the wire if needed. The wire helps it stick up and having a bend helps the pointed end of the wire not stick out of your seam.

Then cut a line across the seam on the top of your hat. Start small and make it bigger as needed. Put your ends of the carrot through the line. Turn it inside out and stitch. (See picture)

Using felt cut three hairs by folding over the felt and cutting 3 long rectangles. Sew them together with the corners rounded. I liked that they were different sizes.  Again insert bended wire and batting . (See picture) Cut another line across the seam where the hair should be. (See picture) Insert the 3 "hairs" and turn inside out and sew.

Using brown and black felt, cut our oval eyes and brows. I had to groom my brows because he looked a little mean. Using glue ( I love Fabric Tac) glue on his features. I like doing this when the child is wearing the hat. I also cut a small rectangle of white and sew a tooth where the forehead would be.

Because of the size of my nose and it's drooping nature, I hand sew the nose a little bit. Lifting the nose and sewing to a higher spot on the hat helped it stay up.

Finish the hat by adding Velcro to the straps so it can wrap abound his neck.

The body was fairly easy. Using a shirt and pants
to size your squares, cut two sizes of curved rectangles on folded fleece for the bottom.. The one pictured is the bottom part of the costume.  Cut another two pieces for the top making sure to leave one of those pieces a little bit wider. Cut the wider one in half lengthwise to create a seam for the back. Sew the two back pieces together. Then sew the back and front together at the sides. I only sewed about an inch, then left a space for armholes, and then continued sewing the seams together.

Sew the seams together for your bottom pieces. Next sew the top and bottom together, right sides together, matching seams. Have your child try on their costume. From there I was able to see how far I wanted to sew the top together. Make sure to leave space for their head to fit through. You could add a zipper, but I just did a hook clasp. Cut out three squiggly circles and glue them on.

Finally I cut out on folded  brown felt three stick fingers. I did this twice, using my first one as a pattern. I sew them together and turned them out. I was going to sew them on my brown long sleeve t-shirt, but I think we will reuse the shirt. So I safety pinned them on.

Photography is one of those areas that I wish I was better at. I am trying and practicing using my camera in manual. Missing my favorite photographer Shari Hanson. Wishing she was closer and could capture our Halloween costumes again this year. But I am excited we book a session next month. She is having her Fall Special. If you live in Southern California you probably want to check this out.

You can also check out

The rest of the family's costumes will be here soon. Thanks!!!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

General Conference Traditions

I LOVE traditions! And I love General Conference. Every 1st weekend of April and October a General Conference is held where our dear prophet and other church leaders speak to us. And I truly believe that Thomas S. Monson is a real prophet who speaks for The Lord. Like Noah or Abraham of old. It is a great weekend to get answers to struggles or personal revelation on how we can better come unto Christ. It's always inspiring. I always feel the spirit. And everyone is welcomed to listen. They have two general sessions on Saturday and two sessions on Sunday. There is also a Priesthood session Saturday night. Always fun to see the Conference quotes on Pinterest after a session. Love that we can have reminders in our home after conference is over to help us remember the great things we learned.

Our Traditions:

We call it Pajama Church. You can go to a church building to watch it, but personally our family loves to lounge around in our jammies while we feel the spirit. 

Saturday Morning Dad goes and gets donuts. It keeps it simple and fun. 

Conference Bingo. My husband and sons love to put a "fuzzy" on a square when someone mentions faith, pioneers, temples, or whatever. I find it really helps them listen.

Conference Packets. It takes some prep but it's totally worth it. And sometimes you can find me early Saturday morning printing off pages to color or puzzles to do because life is so crazy. I really dislike having toys out unless it's for my baby. It's my personal preference, but I find my kids listen better. Each session is two hours (though there is musical numbers) and that can be hard for kids. I think they are more receptive to the spirit when they are coloring pictures of a temple or Noah's Ark.

In between the sessions I try to get my kids outside or dancing or something to get them moving. It makes it easier for the next session.

 1st time getting her piggies done, Saturday night session 2013
Saturday night is the Priesthood session. I like to go out with girlfriends to grab dinner. Or have a movie night where we can craft or paint nails. Last year we went to our friends house and watched Teen Beach Movie. It was perfect. Baby girl loved the dance scenes. My boys are pretty cool with musicals which I love. And someday when they are 12 they will go with their dad to the Priesthood session. Afterwards my hubby always goes out for a treat. It's a great time to talk about what you loved in that session.

General Confernce

My husbands family always made Banana Pancakes Sunday morning. To be honest, I'm not crazy about banana. Then my in laws started going to their cabin for conference weekend. My hubby wanted me to make banana pancakes. But I didn't want to. I decided to start a new tradition. (luckily he loves them so he has okay with the change.) So we made homemade cinnamon rolls. My 2nd boy was a baby at the time, so we didn't give him any frosting, but he worked on that thing the whole session. It's been 5 years since we started making them and it's my kids favorite thing about conference weekend.  I love that I can roll them out the night before. It makes it so much easier Sunday morning.

We also love doing a FHE before to get us ready. It's a great time to talk to our kids about any problems they may need help from. And our family night after conference we share our favorite conference talks. We got this idea from my friend Michelle. We lived in this great apartment complex with 4 other great couples. I love that we still do this. (Thanks Michelle!)

This year I finally got around to making a apostle matching game. I try to hard to help my kids know the apostles so they will be more likely to listen to their talks. It's so humbling to see what sponges are kids are.

We also try to evaluate our Emergency Preparedness. We check our batteries, rotate water storage, and and make some goals.

This year we won't be going over to my in laws for the 2nd Sunday session. It was always nice sharing our favorite talks as we made an easy dinner. I am so excited for this weekend. I love watching conference with my family. I love that we have a prophet on the earth today. And I love the whispering of the spirit that come to me on how I can be better.

Feel free to share your favorite conference traditions...